During his April 12 press conference at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time assessed the progress of talks with Ukraine. He visited the spaceport together with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.
The Russian leader said that the sides reached certain agreements during the talks in Istanbul at the end of March, yet the situation was impacted by the "provocation in Bucha" and the fact that "the Ukrainian side had moved away from its agreements in Istanbul." According to Putin, on April 11, Ukraine changed its proposals yet again but did not specify what the changes were. He asserted that the special military operation will continue with Moscow’s aspiration being the attainment of all previously set goals.
Moscow does not reject the negotiations yet sees that the Ukrainian side is not responding to the decisions on the recognition of Crimea, the LPR and DPR which Russia needs, Associate Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities Alexander Gushchin says. The academic thinks that the talks will continue but in a new format. He stressed that it was very significant that Putin gave high marks to Belarus as a negotiating venue during his visit to Vostochny.
In his address, Putin signaled several messages simultaneously, according to Russian International Affairs Council Director General Andrey Kortunov. He demonstrated that he was dissatisfied by the Ukrainian side that moved away from the Istanbul agreements. Yet this time he was not talking about de-Nazification and the "resetting of Ukraine" - the Russian leader returned to stating the need to protect Donbass. Gushchin concurs that the liberation of the territories of the LPR and DPR and conquering the armed forces in eastern Ukraine remain Moscow’s priorities.
Washington has declared open season on Russian oil which is trying to break into new markets. Deliveries to India may get complicated due to obstacles on the part of several major banks. Russia’s Urals brand suddenly disappeared from one of the tender lists soon after US President Joe Biden talked to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Signs of pessimism emerged in the production industry while scholars from the Higher School of Economics confirm that a recession both in the industry and the economy in general is practically inevitable.
"So far, the industry has not seen any sharp decrease in demand, but surveys show negative sentiment for the next three-four months," Director of the Center for Market Research at the Higher School of Economics Georgy Ostapkovich told the newspaper. "A recession (that is, a drop in the GDP for six months in a row) is definitely looming for the Russian economy. And the drop in the economy will above all happen due to a recession in the industry. Right now, we are observing strong negative signals: AvtoVAZ has been standing idle in April for several days, and in four, or five months, half of the country’s airplanes may be grounded.
According to the expert’s forecasts, negative trends will also be observed in extractive industries. "The export of hydrocarbons is the main category of our budget’s profits, 40% of them are formed by selling oil products, gas, and coal. The West will continue to push us out of traditional markets. The US wants to replace our hydrocarbons with theirs and all means are good for this - both sanctions and pressure on countries ready to buy Russian raw materials." The expert noted that Russia will try to increase its supplies to India and China yet will have to sell oil at a discount. He also pointed out that Nord Stream 2 is sitting idle and cannot be redirected to China.
Currently, Russia is holding talks with a number of EU countries on the possibility of paying for Russian gas in rubles, the plan proposed by the Russian side will not increase their costs, Russian Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov said in an interview with Izvestia.
"Constructively-minded countries are studying the possibility of ruble payments. This form of payment does not increase the cost for buyers in any way. It is also necessary to keep in mind that nowadays other players cannot find a replacement for Russian gas neither in volume, nor as far as the availability of proper infrastructure goes. We are observing actual negotiations with companies, with the countries who consider such an opportunity (of paying in rubles)," he said.
The top official also commented on the possibility of oil prices surpassing $150 per barrel. He did not rule this out yet reiterated the complexity of such forecasts under volatile conditions.
"The price of oil within $80-150 per barrel is technically possible yet our task is not to guess the oil price but to ensure that the oil industry is functioning. We are ready to sell oil and petroleum products to friendly countries in any range of prices," he noted.
European and G7 countries were tightening the screws on the Palestinian leadership urging it to condemn Russia’s position on Ukraine, however, the country’s President Mahmoud Abbas rejected these calls, Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal said in an interview with Izvestia.
"I have to say that the Palestinian leadership was subject to harsh pressure on the part of European countries as well as on the part of some G7 countries who were urging us to condemn the Russian stance. Yet President Mahmoud Abbas resolutely rejected these calls," he said.
"We trust that the Russian leadership will be able to find a swift and adequate resolution to the current conflict," the ambassador stressed.
According to the envoy, Palestine hopes that a political settlement will be reached as soon as possible and in the fairest way.
The Social Research Expert Institute (EISI) held a roundtable discussion on cancel culture and on ways of fighting it. While, according to the participants, the attempts to "cancel Russia" began 500 years ago, the West had not managed to do so due to the scale and significance of Russia to the entire world. According to the newspaper’s sources, fighting cancel culture is included in the list of paradigms which the authorities recommend using in communication with citizens as one of the mechanisms to build up patriotic sentiment given Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.
Lawsuits may become a way to fight off the metastasizing spread of cancel culture targeting everything Russian. With that in mind, Russians should unite and launch court battles in various countries to defend their rights both in the cultural and economic spheres, according to Head of the Institute’s Expert Council Gleb Kuznetsov.
According to Deputy Director of the MGPU’s Institute of History and Politics Vladimir Shapovalov, the West has been trying to "cancel Russia" since the restoration of its independence and sovereignty in the 15th century. He noted that information war was started by Sigismund von Herberstein with his book Notes on Muscovite Affairs which claimed that the Russians were slaves who find pleasure in their enslavement. The historian reiterated that the book underwent 22 editions and during the past 500 years, regardless of the regime, Russia has been perceived in Europe through the "friend-or-foe" prism.
First Deputy Chairperson of the Russian State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, Olympic speed skating champion Svetlana Zhurova also complained about the attempts to "cancel Russian achievements" in sports. According to her, Russian athletes had to endure disapproval back in the Soviet era. After the reunification with Crimea in 2014, doping accusations erupted, while even now, changing affiliation won’t help one’s athletic career since this ‘cancel’ crusade will also spread to those federations that admit these athletes, she cautioned.
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